Public Invited into Sag Harbor Super Search

Posted on 21 November 2012

By Amanda Wyatt

When former Sag Harbor School Superintendent Dr. John Gratto was hired in 2008, some community members expressed frustration that the board of education had not included residents in the selection process.

The district is on the hunt once again for a new superintendent, and at its Monday night meeting, the Sag Harbor Board of Education announced this time around, the community will have some input into the process that will select the new superintendent.

On Tuesday, November 27 and Wednesday, November 28, the Board of Education (BOE) will hold six public forums on the selection of a superintendent. Members of the community are invited to attend any one of the meetings, which will be held in the Pierson Middle/High School auditorium from 10 to 10:45 a.m., 6 to 6:45 p.m. and 7 to 7:45 p.m. on both days.

Representatives from School Leadership, LLC, the consulting firm overseeing the search, will attend the meetings. Participants in each of the forums will have the opportunity to meet the consultants.

At a BOE meeting on Monday, November 19, school board president Theresa Samot said that School Leadership “will be facilitating the dialogue. They have a list of questions for characteristics the community feels are important for the superintendent to possess.”

In a letter addressed to members of the school community, Samot wrote: “The board is facing the most important task any school board ever faces: replacing its chief school officer.”

She went on to say that during the meeting, the BOE and School Leadership will ask the audience what they believed would attract a highly-qualified educator to seek the position, as well as the types of experiences and qualities he or she should have. Additionally, the BOE wants to know what challenges community members feel the new superintendent will face over the next three to five years.

For those who cannot attend the meeting, the BOE has created a brief online survey on the subject. The survey, which should be completed no later than December 2, 2012, is located at www.surveymonkey.com/s/sagharbor2012.

The four-question survey asks participants about the qualities they feel are most important for a successful superintendent, such as past experience, education level and professional skills. Participants may also make additional comments or recommendations for the BOE on the survey.

According to Samot, later, School Leadership will develop criteria for the selection of the superintendent based on public input.

“So there’s going to be back-and-forth dialogue,” she added.

“Once the criteria is solidified, based on the community feedback, that information will be shared back to the community,” said the board’s vice president Chris Tice at Monday’s BOE meeting. “It will be shared back via the website, maybe in a special press release and at a board meeting.”

Since the summer, Sag Harbor has been looking for a permanent superintendent to replace Dr. John Gratto, who retired and has since relocated to Virginia. In mid-August, Dr. Carl Bonuso — formerly of the Wantagh School District — became interim superintendent of Sag Harbor schools.

Both Dr. Bonuso and Dr. Gratto were recruited by School Leadership. The firm specializes in helping school districts select superintendents, principals and other administrators, along with providing additional consulting services.

In other news, the BOE announced at its Monday meeting that the district would be making changes to its calendar after students missed a full week of school due to Hurricane Sandy.

School will be held on April 1, 2013, even though it was scheduled to be part of spring break. May 24 and May 28 have also been returned to the calendar as “work days,” rather than becoming vacation days, as originally hoped.

As a result of Hurricane Sandy, the board said it needed to fill in an additional two missed school days into the school calendar. The board noted that it was taking into consideration the fact that many families plan vacations and travel during school recesses.

“We would like to be able to make [any other changes to the calendar] no later than the beginning of December so that people can make their plans accordingly,” said Dr. Bonuso.

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